The Most Annoying Thing You Should Never Do at a Car Dealership

Car shopping is no easy task, especially if you have no idea what kind of car you want. Luckily, with the power of the Internet, you can sort through all the cars at your local dealerships, narrow down your choices, figure out your financing beforehand, and make the process as easy as possible before setting foot in a showroom. Unfortunately, most car shoppers never do this.

A man looks at a F-150 pickup on the showroom floor at a Ford AutoNation car dealership
A man looks at an F-150 pickup on the showroom floor at a Ford AutoNation car dealership | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Here’s what you should NOT do

As a little background, I spent over four years as a car salesperson working in a few different dealerships and selling different brands including Honda, Audi, and Volkswagen. Like most people, I’ve bought cars as well, but I’ve sold even more. So I was always fully aware that customers were afraid that they were going to be taken advantage of upon entering the dealership.

Car shopping can be tough, but it’s even tougher sitting on the other side of the desk.

As a salesperson, it doesn’t matter what brand you sell or if the car is new or pre-owned, the process is always the same. You greet the customer, ask them qualifying questions in order to figure out which car best suits them, present the car, go for a test drive, present them the final numbers for the car, do the paperwork, go over any final questions, and then wave them goodbye.

That’s a pretty oversimplified version of the process, and it sounds simple, but 9 times out of 10, it was not. Not because I was pushy or trying to be difficult when it came to pricing. But it was usually because customers would come in, ask to see a bunch of different cars, and then come up with an excuse to leave.

My favorite being, “I like the car, but I need to think about it. I just need to go (pick up my kids/talk to my wife/etc.)”

And then they completely ghost me when I try and follow up to see if they are still interested.

What I always wanted to say was, “That’s fine. We all have errands to run, but why waste an hour of my time, and yours, if you knew you had other stuff to do?”

Here’s what you should do

Always set aside time to shop for cars, keeping in mind that the car sales process is long. Salespeople spend a lot of time and deal with a lot of stress in order to find the right car for you, all while making it the most pleasant experience possible.

They also understand that you might be nervous or scared, but there’s no reason to be with clear communication. I think I can speak for all car salespeople when I tell you: Just be upfront and honest.

If you’re not going to buy a car then and there, that’s fine. But just let the salesperson know from the get-go so that they can figure how to get you the information you’re seeking in the most efficient way. Then when you’re ready to buy, the process will go much smoother.

Customers visits an electric and hybrid vehicles store in Shanghai
Customers visit an electric and hybrid vehicles store in Shanghai | Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Just be nice

We all know that there’s a huge stigma when it comes to car salespeople and car shopping. Trust me, it’s one of the hardest jobs to do and a little kindness from the customer always goes a long way, after all, salespeople are human, too.

My advice for the next time you find yourself walking into a dealership trying your best to put your “game face” on and do battle (or run away): Put on a smile, be nice, and be honest.

If you do this, I can promise you that your experience will be much better than you expected.